Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Vivicam 3545 Digital Camera

Recently I bought a Vivitar Vivicam 3545 digital camera for $40 CDN. Shopping around, comparably priced cameras were limited to 640x480 and only had 8 MB memory.

The 3545 is a 1.3 megapixel (1280x1024) camera with 16 MB memory. It's a stick design, meaning you hold it vertically to take pictures. It's kind of neat, because it lets you take pictures one-handed, with either hand. That should be good for taking pictures while doing sports.

The pictures it takes are pretty good, so long as the lighting is good and bright. There's no flash on this unit, which means it's limited to outdoor and well-lighted events.

The 16 MB memory lets me keep a fair number of pictures depending on resolution and compression (JPEG) settings. Depending on settings, the camera can store anywhere from 20 to 250 pictures. Since this camera acts as a USB mass storage device in Windows, it's nice and easy to copy pictures off the camera.

The PhotoSuite software included looks fairly comprehensive, with nice features like automatic photo touchup, and the capability to remove wrinkles and blemishes.

My only real criticism of the camera is that every time you turn it on, it defaults to high-resolution high-quality mode (least memory-efficient) instead of remembering previous settings. It takes a couple seconds to switch modes to get more capacity, but this is balanced by the 3545 being pretty much an instant-on camera.

If all you need is a basic point and shoot camera, I think the Vivicam 3545 is pretty good value for the money. It's compact enough to carry around all the time, and it can produce great looking pictures, particularly if your pictures will usually be displayed on a screen.

Update: A fairly critical design flaw has reared its ugly head. This camera won't work with standard rechargeable batteries, not even high-capacity NiMH. I was, however, able to get it to work with rechargeable alkalines, which is good but not ideal. It's a rather poor design when a product won't work with rechargeable batteries. Right up there with stupid design decisions like making products that work with odd numbers of batteries. Since batteries are charged in pairs, that makes charging a pain.